Rui Faria: Why we told Ronaldo to ease off in the gym

FORMER Manchester United assistant Rui Faria has revealed he urged Cristiano Ronaldo to ease off on his gym work at Real Madrid.

The pair worked together at the Bernebeu from 2010 to 2013, when Faria was Jose Mourinho’s assistant and Ronaldo was the team’s star player.

Prior to joining Real, Ronaldo transformed his physique from that of a slight teenager to a strong, well-defined athlete at Manchester United. Regular gym sessions were a key part of his regime.

However, Faria is a disciple of Victor Frade’s tactical periodisation, which dictates that all physical work should be done within a tactical framework, usually with the ball.

In an interview with The Times, Faria revealed: “I said, ‘With this (gym work), you’re going to lose mobility and agility and a guy like you is about speeding with the ball, you have a lot of skills to dribble.’ But I never say stop. I just opened their minds to a different approach.”

This has been a familiar theme throughout the careers of Faria and Mourinho, who had worked since 2001, at Uniao de Leiria, until going their separate ways last summer. When the duo arrived at Chelsea in June 2004, Faria said he had a similar conversation with Frank Lampard, who had been used to doing a lot of isolated running.

“The concert pianist doesn’t run around the piano to get ready or do push-ups on his fingers,” Faria said. “I gave Frank an analogy for him to understand that, yes, there is a logic to [tactical periodisation].

“Practise, prepare, don’t run yourself into the ground. Frank was ready to listen and learn, be humble, put team interests ahead of his own interests.”

And it was also the same at inter Milan, where Mourinho and Faria won the Treble in 2010.

“I remember when we went to Italy and did the first session pre-season and José sent me to the press, and they said, ‘Last season we saw the fitness coach on a bicycle putting the players running around the track here, why don’t you run on the track?’

“I replied, ‘For the same reasons that the athletes are not playing football to improve their skills.’ They started laughing. Nobody had stopped to question [heavy running] in the past.”

However, former Manchester United Head of Performance Tony Strudwick, who worked with Ronaldo at Old Trafford, admitted he had reservations about Tactical Periodisation when he presented at our Cohesive Coaching conference in June.

“My biggest criticism of Tactical Periodisation is that I don’t think we really overload the athletes enough in the physical component,” he said.

“I’d still like to see individual athletes pulled out and really worked to develop those game-changing moments.”

Darcy Norman, the former Head of Performance at Roma, Bayern Munich and Germany, voiced similar views in an interview with us earlier this month.

“I love tactical periodisation, because you should do as much as you can within the context of the sport," he said. "It doesn’t eliminate the weight room though.

“There are so many other benefits to strength training – muscle strength, power and so on – and that’s a big part of why there are so many muscle injuries in the sport.

"A lot of people, even to this day, say you don’t need to train weights, you just need to run. You totally need to do that though.

"What a lot of people don’t get is that strength doesn’t equal size.

"If you are pound for pound as strong as possible, then the energy it takes to do the same step is less and there is less metabolic consequence to do those steps."

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